Office for Christian Unity

Thursday 9 May 2024


We continue to read texts by Fr François Varillon during the Easter season.

The Ascension of Christ is the respect of our freedom

And yet the Ascension is Christ’s departure, in the sense that it is no longer possible for us, when we have decisions to make, to ask him to tell us what to do. Of course we can, and indeed must, question him in prayer, since he is more ourselves than we are. But he does not answer us by taking away the responsibility for our decisions and our actions. A phrase of Jesus, in the discourse after the Last Supper, is extremely enlightening: “It is good for you that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Holy Spirit will not come” (Jn 16:7).

The Holy Spirit is not the one who dictates decisions, but the one who inspires them. God will always refuse to write our story himself. If he did, we would not be able to say that he loves us, because he would consent to our remaining children, minors, dare we say kids. We’re not expressing ourselves well when we say that God has a plan for mankind. After all, my human dignity forbids me to accept that someone has a plan for me (even if that someone is God!). For many, this is a profound reason for atheism. The truth is not that God has a plan for man, but that man is God’s plan. That’s quite a different matter.

[…] Claudel, in his own way, translated Jesus’ phrase “It is useful for you that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Holy Spirit will not come” by writing: “I must take my face from you so that you may have my soul”. It is up to us, with full responsibility, I repeat, to take decisions that are appropriate for the advent of a more human world, but Christ is present in each of these humanising decisions to give them a divine dimension.

François Varillon, ‘Joie de croire, joie de vivre’, Le Centurion, 1981, pp. 103-105


Prepared by the brothers and sisters of Paradise House in Lyon

To be adapted according to your location

In the Paradise House in Lyon, we are preparing many summer sessions for young people. We give you thanks for all those to whom you send us, and we pray to you for these various preparations. May your Holy Spirit guide us so that we can pass on the joy of knowing you and following you, and bear witness to your love for these teenagers and students.

Lord, we thank you for the visible signs of the unity of your Body in the city of Lyon. We pray for the event organised by Charis Lyon around Pentecost, so that we can pray together for Christian unity. May your Holy Spirit breathe on this event, to strengthen our fraternal links. Come and bless the Charis team and their work.

Lord, we thank you for our three brothers who will be ordained priests on Saturday 11 May at 10.30am in Evry. Thank you for the gift of their lives for Christian unity and for the Church. Through them, we want to pray for each member of the Chemin Neuf Community and Communion: make us grow in our passion for your Body, the Church, and in our desire to work for its unity.